Author: Hermione Eveningfall
Fandom: Chronicles of Narnia, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
Disclaimer: Naturally, I don't own any of the characters…they belong to C.S. Lewis. I am only borrowing them, and promise to give them back!
Summary: Sequel to "Playing Doctor". Peter is getting worse, and, in the midst of her distress, Lucy discovers a hidden wardrobe that will change her life forever.
Dr. Barnaby's visit
The rain continued to pour heavily throughout the rest of that night, complicating matters most dreadfully when Mrs. Macready had to drive the carriage into town at two in the morning for the doctor. Peter, despite his sister's best attempts to help nurse his cold, was growing worse by the hour. Edmund had come barging into the girl's room not long before, shaking Susan awake anxiously. "Peter says he can't breathe well," he gasped. "says he needs you."
Susan rushed into the bedroom Edmund shared with Peter, and found her oldest brother sitting up in bed, coughing hard and wheezing. His face was deathly pale, covered with a thin sheet of sweat. "Edmund," she spoke, after feeling Peter's burning forehead, and patting his back. "Wake Mrs. Macready, and tell her she has to send for the doctor right away."
Edmund stood looking horrified; approaching Macready in broad daylight was bad enough! "Why do I have to go? You're older!" he snapped, and cringed when Peter coughed up a disgusting mouthful of phlegmn into Susan's handkerchief.
"Would you like to sit here then?" Susan asked angrily, and Edmund stepped back. "Go!" she watched as her younger brother rushed off, nearly bumping into Lucy who approached the doorway.
"What's wrong with Peter?" Lucy asked, yawning. She'd been taking care of her brother earlier that day, and, according to Susan, had fallen asleep at the foot of his bed.
"He's getting worse," Susan explained. "He has a bad fever."
"We should wake the Professor," Lucy gasped, hurrying over to the side of the bed.
"No," Susan replied. "Edmund went to fetch Mrs. Macready. She told me to let her know if he took worse, and that she'd send for the doctor. Lu, you shouldn't be in here in case he's contagious. He might be coming down with influenza."
And that was how Lucy came to sit by herself on the windowsill in the parlor, after Macready entered the sickroom and ordered her out at once. She watched as lightening flashed occasionally through the cloudy sky, rumbles of thunder following in suit. When the house grew quiet again, except for the rain splattering against the windos, she could her her brother coughing upstairs.
If only mother were here, she thought, feeling a single tear roll down her cheek. Only hours before, she'd brought Peter to bed, and sung him a lullabye. He'd only been sniffling and sneezing then, which brought her to wonder if he'd been truly feeling worse. Peter tended to hide his ailments as best he could, which usually resulted in weeks of bedrest.
Susan sat beside Peter's bed, watching as he attempted to sleep. Mrs. Macready brought her a bowl of cool water and a rag, which she placed over Peter's forehead as a compress. "It normally takes an hour to get to and from town," the older woman told Susan in her usual, cool tone, "but given this weather, I can't be certain."
Edmund was ordered to spend the rest of the night in his sister's room, which he grudgingly agreed to.
"Hahkshhhh! Huhshhhuh!" Peter sneezed weakly, catching them in his free palm. Susan held tightly onto his other hand, pressing it against her cheek.
"Bless you," she told him softly. "Oh Peter, I'm so sorry." She reached up to stroke his damp bangs away from his forehead.
"Where's Lu?" Peter croaked, just as another crack of thunder echoed through the house. Everything ached, even the hair on his head. On top of that, he was so cold; two blankets weren't nearly enough.
"She's downstairs," Susan replied. "Mrs. Macready went for the doctor. Everything's going to be all right."
Peter blinked, darkness clouding the edges of his vision. "Don't need a doctor," he whispered, and Susan shook her head.
"You're always so stubborn with this type of thing," she said. "Just lay still and try to sleep."
Peter made it appear as though he were about to protest again, but groaned softly, and turned his head away from her. Susan carefully removed the compress from his forehead, dipping it in the bowl, and began to blott his neck and cheeks. The last time she'd seen Peter so ill, was when he'd come down with a serious attack of measles two years before.
Edmund, meanwhile, sat up on Susan's bed, refusing to take the floor. His eyes were fixed on the heavy sheets of rain that rolled down the windows, and the heavy ghusts of wind that rattled branches and made eerie howling sounds. He hugged his knees to his chest, wetting his lips. The sound of the thunder reminded him of the bombs exploding, and the though of bombs made him think of his father off fighting in the war.
Edmund always had an extremely tight relationship with Mr. Pevensie; he got along better with his father than his mother, that was certain. He and his mother were always butting heads; she felt he was growing up too fast, but he was tired of her constant fussing. He remembered her disappointed expression when he'd refused to accept her kiss at the train station. Peter was and always had been mother's favorite, and he wasn't about to forgive her for it. He ignored the fact that Peter had nearly died from measles, and that's why Mrs. Pevensie was so overprotective of her eldest son. Nevermind that he nearly cried himself to sleep when he thought his older brother was going to pass away. And, even though the immediate danger had passed, and as much as he tried to hide it, Peter knew he was never going to regain the old strength he had before the illness.
Edmund gave a huff, leaning his chin on his arms. He didn't get weepy over matters such as this; instead, his sadness and worry turned into pure spite instead."I just want father to come back," he told the walls finally. "That's all. If he's killed in the fighting, well then, I'll run off, that's what. I'm not good enough anyway." He lay down on his side, pulling the blankets over his head as he heard Peter's hacking coughs from across the hall.
Lucy awoke to the sound of the door opening, and hushed voices. She opened her eyes, realizing she'd fallen asleep on the sitting room couch. She wasn't sure how long she'd been laying there, but when she managed to raise her head high enough, she saw the tall, thin, stiff figure of Mrs. Macready. Another figure stood behind her, who, Lucy guessed, must have been the Doctor.
Both adults were still talking quietly amongst themselves, and a lamp turned on. "Professor Kirke," Mrs. Macready spoke, and instantly, Lucy hopped off the couch.
"Dr. Barnaby," Lucy heard an old man's voice.
"Did the children wake you, Professor?" Mrs. Macready asked, and Lucy hid behind a wall, peering up the steps. She could see the Professor well from here; he was a tall, thin man, with white hair covering most of his face and head. He was dressed in his own robe, and wore a pair of spectacles on his nose.
"Not to worry, Macready, not to worry. I thank you for coming at such an odd hour, sir," the Professor added, and Lucy quickly hurried after them.
"Professor, sir?" she startled the three adults, and Mrs. Macready placed a hand over her heart.
"Girl, what are you doing out of bed at this hour?" she asked harshly, and Lucy held her hand out to the Professor.
"I was hoping to meet you, little one," Professor Kirke chuckled, accepting the hand. His grip was firm and gentle, and made Lucy feel comfortable at once. "I have been so wrapped up in my work, that I did not wish to be disturbed. I apologize for being such an old hermit."
Lucy giggled. "A pleasure to meet you, too."
"Off to bed, then," Mrs. Macready ordered.
"Is my brother going to be all right?" Lucy asked, and Professor Kirke patted her head tenderly.
"I will do the best I can, miss," the Doctor Barnaby replied, his cheeks rosy from the wind.
"Good night," Lucy said softly, entering her quarteres. She found Edmund sound asleep on Susan's bed, and sighed heavily. No doubt her sister would not be pleased about this, but attempting to wake Edmund before the sun came up was like entering a lion's den. Lucy listened to Peter's moan of pain as she slid under the covers, and, at that moment, Susan entered.
"Edmund stole your bed," Lucy whispered, pointing at his slumbering figure, and Susan sat on the edge of her mattress. When lightening flashed, Lucy could see tear streaks on her sister's face. "Oh, don't cry," she begged. "Peter will get well. The Doctor's here…everything's going to be all right."
"Oh Lu," Susan sobbed, pulling her sister into a tight hug.
"You can share my bed if you'd like," Lucy insisted. "I'm small, so I won't take up much room."
Susan kissed the top of her sister's head, and stole a quick glance at Edmund. "All right," she whispered. Lucy scooted over, so Susan had room to climb under the covers with her.
Dr. Barnaby sat in Susan's chair beside Peter's bed, listening to his heart through a stethoscope. Professor Kirke and Mrs. Macready stood off to the side, watching anxiously. "How long has the boy been ill?" the doctor asked, shaking his head and clucking his tongue.
"His sister said he had a bit of a cold this week," Mrs. Macready answered. "The Professor and I haven't had the time to be watching the children every minute, however."
"Heh…ehkshhhh!" Peter sneezed, wanting to sink through the floor and disappear. It was one thing to be ill and at home with mother caring for him; but to be so dreadfully ill in the presence of complete strangers was extremely uncomfortable. He wished Susan could have stayed in the room with him; he felt a tiny bit better when he saw a familiar face.
"Bless, lad," Dr. Barnaby told him kindly. "He seems to be contracting influenza. Is there anywhere the other children could be sent to, until the worst of the illness passes? It is a contagious illness."
The other adults looked at each other, and Professor Kirke stepped forward. "I'm afraid not," he replied. "the children were sent to me from London because of the air raids, and I have no other living relatives."
Dr. Barnaby nodded. "Well, try to keep them out of the room, then. The house must be kept quiet, to give the boy a chance to sleep. He'll need to take in plenty of fluids, preferably herbal teas. His lungs are fairly congested, so a good eucalyptus steam bath to loosen the phlegmn every couple of hours would suffice. If he does not begin to show signs of improvement over the next couple of days, send for me."
Professor Kirke nodded, and gave Peter a gentle squeeze on the shoulder. "It's going to be all right, my boy," he insisted.
"Sorry," Peter croaked, coughing and wheezing.
"Let us elevate your head so you will have a bit easier of a time breathing tonight," Dr. Barnaby added, and, with Mrs. Macready's help, eased Peter into a sitting position. They fluffed his pillows and sat them upright, so Peter's upper body was raised slightly.
"One of you should sit with him tonight," Dr. Barnaby added. "He may need a bit of help."
'Just let me die now,' Peter thought, wanting a handkerchief rather badly. Dr. Barnaby seemed to sense his wishes, and handed him a small stack of fresh handkerchiefs. "Keep these under your pillow, lad," he encouraged, and, after taking one and putting the rest under him, Peter nodded gratefully.
"Thags," he croaked, burying his running nose into the cloth.
"I suppose I'll sit up with the boy tonight," Mrs. Macready announced. "You're much too old to be awake all night."
Professor Kirke gave a chuckle. "Old, eh? Is that what you think?"
"HahKeshhh! KehShhhh!" Peter sneezed twice, blowing his nose loudly afterwards.
"Bless," all three adults told him in unison.
"Well, discuss it amongst yourselves," Dr. Barnaby said, just as a crack of thunder startled them.
"Sir, perhaps you should spend the night yourself," the Professor suggested. "It's still much too ghastly for anyone to be about."
Dr. Barnaby checked his pocket watch, and glanced at Peter, who lay shivering violently beneath the blankets. "Well, I suppose, but I must be out by daybreak. It's a lengthy ride back to town."
"Then you'll sit with the boy?" Mrs. Macready asked, and Dr. Barnaby nodded.
"Yes, I will. I do believe he'll need an extra blanket, however." He pulled the quilt up to Peter's neck, which did not seem to ease the shivering very much.
"I'll get that," Mrs. Macready replied. "Good night, Professor," she added, after Professor Kirke shook hands firmly with the doctor.
"Thank you," he insisted. "please, feel free to make yourself at home."
Mrs. Macready carried another quilt into the room, tucking it tightly around Peter's body. "Good night, sir," she added, and followed in the Professor's wake. When both were gone, Dr. Barnaby turned down the bedside lamp, and leaned back, trying to get as comfortable as possible. Though it was already three thirty in the morning, daylight seemed years away.